4th child

I grew up with one older brother who left home before I was in high school.  I love him and I always wished we had more siblings. Now that I have four kids I realize I was probably lucky in some ways. I ruled the roost in Kid Zone and I was lucky that my parents had the energy to keep up with me.  As a mom of four, though, I’ll admit the youngest kids can have it rough.  I was all over the play dates, school field trips, and general good parenting with the oldest kids, but the first two really kicked my butt.  By the time the younger ones came around I was like, meh, they’ll be fine.  These are some of the signs that you might be the youngest of four (or more!):

You were a surprise!  Sure, it was a good one, sure.  Yea.  Well, we learned to like you.  Your parents smile and reminisce about the memories of each of your siblings’ pending arrival.  They know where they were when they found out about each of them and which important family member or friend they told first.  For you they say, “And then we found about Josh. At least we hadn’t given away the crib, yet.”

Why buy new when these have so much life left in them?  Each of your siblings had unique bedding and pillows in their favorite character or TV cartoon.  You had an ecclectic collection of hand me downs that include He-Man, The Smurfs and Holly Hobby.  Your older brother got new Jordans and your sister chose new name brand jeans every three months.  (Insert whatever brand was relevent for your younger years: Levis, Miss Me’s, Jordache.)  You got them, too.  When they were done with them, first.

A picture speaks a thousand words.  At Christmas-time your older siblings had super cute photos in matching outfits at a well staged Santa location in the mall or studio.  You were lucky to see Santa a the local hardware store in front of a cardboard screen. Their portrait studio budget was blown long before you showed up.

Your memories are just as important.  We promise.  Your baby book and childhood scrapbooks are “missing.”  According to your mom they were “lost” in the last move.  Funny how your siblings’ books made the transition just fine.

Creativity beats material things any day.  A dollhouse for your older sister was a gorgeous, wood mansion complete with hardwood floors and handcrafted furniture.  Your dollhouse was a collection of mismatched shoe boxes duct taped together, smothered in Elmer’s glue and glitter.  Your mom gushed over the cardboard sofa you made yourself while your parents deny any difference in your toys to your sister’s, but let’s face facts.  You saw the photos in her scrapbook.

It takes a village.  While it was pretty awesome to have five people older than you to play with and take you places, it supremely sucked to have five huge people “parenting” you. As if it weren’t enough that your parents were strict, your older siblings got to torment you, too?!

Are you hurt or are you injured?  When the first few kids fell down and cried, your parents moved with lightening speed to aid and comfort the wounded.  When you got hurt, instead of hydrogen peroxide, Bandaids, and hugs and kisses someone shouted across the yard, “Rub some dirt on it and quit crying!”

Only two bedtime stories tonight, Sweetie.  Gone were the days of tuck ins and reading one book after another.  No more, “Mommy, can I have another drink of water?”  Nope.  They paused Miami Vice just long enough for a hug and a kiss and sent you off to your room with the promise to “be up in a few minutes.”  Your big brother had to read 20 minutes every day, so hey!  It was efficient to cover your need for comfort with his need for homework, right? Right?! (Again, you just plug in whatever TV show fit your generation.)

On the flip side:

Is Mom crying again?! You were the baby and you represented the last of all the firsts.  Everything you did was cried over.  If your mom is anything like me she was a wreck knowing there were no more babies after you and every little thing you did would jerk tears out of her faster than an onion chopping contest.

Can I have his room?  YOU were the last one in the house.  They all went off to college or marriage or prison or whatever, but you were suddenly an only child and everything  belonged to YOU!  Who’s room did you take? You also had the advantage to leave the last, lasting impression with your parents.  If you were smart that should work in your favor when they write up the will!